NAIROBI, Kenya, May 7 – The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) has opened a new battle front with Cyrus Jirongo’s Sololo Outlets after issuing 200 title deeds for the Sh40 billion Hazina Estate in Nairobi .
Jirongo, who is embroiled in a bitter ownership dispute with the NSSF termed the development as “a sneaky move only serves to escalate this dispute.”
In a statement, Jirongo says NSSF should have waited for the court’s decision over the matter before issuing the title deeds.
“It has been brought to our attention that the National Social Security Fund – NSSF has in the last 10 days speedily processed titles for Hazina Estate, a property that is still under dispute between the Fund and us. It is in the public interest for the Fund to explain the sudden move which coincides with vast media investigations on critical issues surrounding the 20-year dispute,” Jirongo said in a statement.
However NSSF Acting Managing Trustee Tom Odongo insisted that they took the move as a strategy to reduce its real estate portfolio to align with the Retirement Benefits Authority regulations, and dismissed Jirongo’s fears.
Jirongo’s relation with Hazina Estate started in 1987 when his Sololo Outlets Limited purchased 23 acres of land in South B at a price of Sh60 million to develop middle income housing units. After he started the project, NSSF was then approached to take it over.
Sololo transferred all its rights to the Fund but was to continue with the development for the benefit of the Fund.
The deal was however terminated by NSSF and Sololo Outlets was kicked out after requesting additional funds, due to what Jirongo described as escalating costs as a result of inflation and negative publicity on the project.
So far, Sololo Outlets has moved to court to claim a further Sh1.5 billion payment allegedly on an unwritten promise by the former NSSF Managing Trustee Alex Kazongo.
“Sololo went to court, claiming some further payments on a basis of a promise that was not written. So we leave it to the courts to decide. We are yet to be summoned by the courts,” said Odongo.
Under its strategy, NSSF plans to offload three properties which include View Park Towers worth Sh1.8 billion, the nearby Hazina Towers (Sh1 billion) and undeveloped land next to the NSSF building worth Sh500 million.
On Monday, the Fund however cancelled the advertisement on the sale of the properties, saying it had not included all the details about the offer.